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Restoration of the hand brake cross shaft on the TC

1 Mar

Complete restoration was not the intention until…………..!

The original plan was to remove the hand lever from the cross shaft to have the chrome plating renewed. This would require removing one cable lever by grinding off two welds and removing two taper pins on the driver side end of the shaft. After the hand lever was removed the wear on the shaft where the hand lever is positioned was quite evident. The two brass bearing sleeves in the end supports were also heavily worn and the decision to rebuild the hand brake cross shaft was made.

Making the two brass bearing sleeves for the end supports and the brass bushing for the hand lever would be straight forward since I have a lathe in my shop. What to do with the shaft needed to be decided.

Options for dealing with wear on the shaft

I felt there were two options:

One option would be to weld up the worn area on the shaft and turn it back to size. This would require that the centre hand brake lever be removed from the shaft by machining off the welds and removing two more taper pins since the worn area is adjacent to this lever. I felt it would be difficult to keep the shaft straight due to the welding on a small diameter tube.

Another option would be to replace the shaft but the challenge here was how to locate the three levers back in their correct positions and relationship to each other. Closer examination revealed that the two cable levers and their taper pins that pull the hand brake cables at each end are in alignment with each other. The centre lever that the hand lever attaches to via the threaded rod with the clevis end would require that it be properly positioned so the cable levers would work correctly.

Preparation for making a new shaft

I made a drilling jig that would hold and locate the shaft when drilling the holes for the three levers. The jig consists of two V blocks and clamps for holding the shaft, an end stop to position the shaft axially and a block with a hole and pin that would lock the position of the shaft when drilling the cable levers on each end. I used the old shaft and before I removed the other two levers I needed to locate the pin hole in the pin block. With the shaft in the V blocks and a steel rod in the taper pin holes at the end of the shaft to help measure that the taper pin holes were vertical, I marked the position of the hole in the pin block and drilled the hole. Now that the jig was made it was time to remove the last two levers and make the new shaft.

Picture 1 shows the drilling jig along with all the parts that make up the assembly)

Picture 2 shows the drilling jig after marking and drilling the hole in the pin block to align with the centre hand brake lever

Making the shaft

I bought a piece of tubing that was 1 1/4” OD and 7/8” ID by 24” long so there was enough length to chuck on in the lathe. My first attempt at turning the shaft on my lathe was unsuccessful as I could not hold the OD size consistent over the whole length of the shaft. On the second attempt I left .010” of stock on the OD and took the shaft to work and asked the fellow that runs the cylindrical OD grinder to finish grind the shaft. He had the same problem of holding size over the length of the shaft. At this point I asked myself why I was trying to hold size the entire length of the shaft. It only needed to be on size on each end plus the area under the centre hand brake levers and stop collar. Again I made a shaft leaving grind stock on the critical areas and undercut the other areas by .005/.010”. This time it was successful.

Using the jig was as simple as putting the old shaft without the centre lever in the jig and positioning the jig on the drill press so that the centre lever hole was aligned with the drill and clamping the jig to the drill press table. Removing the old shaft and putting the new shaft in the jig, the hole was drilled thru both sides of the shaft. The old shaft with the centre lever assembled was put back into the jig with the centre lever temporarily pinned in place and the jig was then positioned so that the holes for one of the cable levers aligned with the drill. Take out the old shaft, assemble the centre lever onto the new shaft, pin it in place and drill thru the shaft again. Repeat the process for the other cable lever on the opposite end. The drilled and tapped hole for the stop collar had no relationship to any other holes but needed to be positioned so that the hand lever and the ratchet plate were a nice fit between the centre lever and the stop collar. I assembled these items so the hole could be marked thru the hole in the stop collar.

While everything was apart I had all the hardware zinc plated and the hand lever chrome plated. The only parts replaced were the ratchet and the pawl.

One modification I made to the bushing in the hand lever was to drill a hole that aligned with the thru hole in the hand lever. This allows the knob to be removed at the top of the hand lever and a few drops of oil can be added so that it can drip down to the shaft and provide a bit of lubrication.

The other parts that needed to be made were the bearing sleeves for the end supports. This was just a matter of turning up the sleeves then mounting them on a mandrel to turn the outside shape. The shape is pretty much three flat lengths connected by a generous radius on each side, not really a true spherical shape. The end supports had to have the rivets drilled out, brass sleeves replaced and then assembled with new rivets although a small nut and bolt could have been used.

The assembly is pretty straight forward with putting on the items on the shaft in the correct order. I made new taper pins for the three levers and welded the levers as originally done. The bottom of the hand lever was previously painted so all the needed to be done was a bit of masking and finish painting the shaft. After the paint was dry, the balance of the items were assembled to the shaft.

This was a fun and challenging project. While not everyone has a lathe at home (I really don’t know how I could manage without one) the shaft could be made by a competent machine shop and the remaining work done at home in a modestly equipped shop.

John Libbert Ohio USA

Ed’s note: The following series of photos show the various steps taken to complete the job.

For readers in the UK and Europe, complete handbrake cross-shaft restoration for Triple-M and TA/B/C cars is undertaken by Digby Elliot. He can be contacted on 07836 754034. His address is ‘Beam Ends’. (at Newton crossroads), Southampton Road, Whiteparish, SALISBURY, Wiltshire SP5 2QL, UK.

Digby has just commissioned some hemispherical bushes and end plates for the TA/TB/TC brake cross-shaft and when I spoke to him during the first week in February he said that he hoped to have these ready for inspection at the Stoneleigh MG Spares Day.

He sells the bushes in two sizes (standard and undersize). The reason for this is that he has found from experience that if the old shaft is being re-used it is usually worn on the ends thereby necessitating the use of undersize bushes.

Picture 3 shows the detail of the pin in the pin block and centre hand brake lever

Picture 4 shows using the old shaft to set the drill jig for drilling the first hole for the centre hand brake lever

Picture 5 shows using the old shaft with the centre hand brake lever pinned in place to set the alignment for drilling the first hole for the cable lever

Picture 6 (right) shows the centre hand brake lever on the new shaft in the drill jig just after drilling the hole for the cable lever

Picture 7 shows the new shaft after all holes drilled and two levers pinned and welded in place

Picture 8 shows the final shape of the bearing sleeve for the end supports

Picture 9 shows the mandrel used to turn the outside shape of the bearing sleeves

Picture 10 shows one view of the finished article

Picture 11 shows another view of the finished article

The Story of ‘Kermit’

3 Jan

‘Kermit’ (TC4896) is named after the little fellow on the left. The TC, green in colour, graces the front cover of this issue.

‘Kermit’ was purchased by Flt Lt HC Cooper, Royal Australian Air Force on 2nd July, 1948 for £711.13.2 and registered as SA 239743 (as it is today) from Motors Ltd of Gawler Place, Adelaide South Australia, chassis number TC4896. The first photo shows a copy of the record of sales.

The M.G. was used daily around Adelaide until 1950, when Flt Ltd Cooper was transferred to Woomera Air Base for 3 years, making 7 round trips on extremely rough roads to Adelaide.

Driven to Queensland due to a transfer with the RAAF for a few years, the car was finally driven back to South Australia. By 1956, 100,000 miles were registered on the ‘clock’. The next 15 years were spent in Adelaide with TC4896 making several interstate trips – averaging 4,000 miles a year.

Early in 1970 at 160,000 miles, the car had an engine overhaul and new paint, from black to its colour today. Bob Reid of Kurralta Park, South Australia carried this out. After another 25 years (Adelaide & interstate) with the speedo approaching 300,000 miles, another engine overhaul/paint was again carried out by Bob Reid. In 1995 Flt Lt Cooper was not in good health and TC4896 did little mileage.

No. 4896 with its original plates, handbook, tools and papers (as seen in the auction advertisement in the second photo) was purchased from Bennett’s Classic Car Auction S.A. (Deceased Estate) by the car’s second owner, West Reynolds (ex Royal Australian Navy).

Before proceeding much further with the story it is worth commenting on the ‘MG Roadster’ details in the record of sales. It will be noted that the cars are recorded by their engine numbers rather than their chassis numbers.

The first entry is ‘XPAG 5482’ for which the corresponding chassis number is TC4893. The next, ‘XPAG 5212’, is TC4626. This is followed by ‘XPAG 5496’, which is none other than TC4896 (‘Kermit’) and lastly ‘XPAG 5438’, which is TC4833.

Apart from ‘Kermit’ (TC4896), only TC4893 is in the database of the UK’s ‘T’ Register. It would be good to know that TC4626 and TC4833 have both survived.

One further point; the production dates for these cars range from 26th January, 1948 to 26th February, 1948.

Returning to Kermit’s story, West Reynolds had been looking for a good unspoilt TC, having sold, one by one, a modern Midget, MGB and ZB saloon, leaving him with a MGC GT. A friend drew his attention to a one owner TC which was being offered for sale by Bennetts, Classic Car Auctioneers in South Australia. West, who is based in Perth, sent for the details and was provided with photos of the car and the original bill of sale and guarantee certificate which was made up in the form of the display board which is reproduced in this article.

Dealing from a distance (Western Australia to South Australia) dictates that you ask a lot of questions before submitting an auction bid. The auctioneers said that the car “drove well” and the only problem was that it had a poor hood. Having satisfied himself sufficiently regarding the history of the car and its rebuilds, West put in a pre-auction bid, which was rejected; the auction failed to reach West’s bid and the car was put in a container, then train and arrived three days later in Perth.

An apprehensive West wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but what “greeted” him was an unpolished and dusty TC with windscreen wipers falling down. It was unregistered, the brakes were almost non- existent, it had a mind of its own in steering and
got very hot on the way home. All this from a car that, according to the auctioneers, “drove well”!

West takes up the story from now:

“A week of examination did give some relief, even after a wash it looked good, the side curtains, interior & carpet were good, forget the hood, did have the half tonneau. The brakes were all basket cases, so was the cooling system, and the front end was doubtful.

I was still working, and decided to give the repairs to Mike Sherrell (who better! Ed), which turned out a good thing, as I would never have crack tested the front end. The firewall was given the proper colour, the radiator slats, & the horrible gold rocker cover. Here in Perth the TC Owners Club have a Parts & Services Reference Folder, made from contributions from the members over 50 years now. John Bowles (engineer) is the guru here in TC repairs, mend any part, revamp & update any TC car. The Datsun steering box is a must, which he would have converted many, the Morris Minor Differential conversions for different ratios for keeping up with modern traffic, oil cleaner conversion etc.

Later on the new hood and full tonneau cover were made. The wheels were the last expense, sand blasted, spokes checked and painted, not powder coated.

Above and Below: Kermit undergoing a ‘face lift’ with Mike Sherrell

Above: Now with correct bulkhead colour

Above: Kermit and cousins at Battle of Britain air display

Kermit is not a concourse car, but fits comfortably in to any group of T.C.s Kermit is very original, draws its admirers at any car show especially when they read the history – comments such as ‘does it glow in the dark’ (stationed at Woomera Air Base in S.A. I guess referring to radiation the U.K. & RAAF with their testing of the Atom)”.

West Reynolds, Perth, Western Australia

Above: Kermit ‘showing off’

Ed’s note: The front cover picture was taken from Kings Park, the most popular visitor attraction in Western Australia. Kings Park and Botanic Garden was originally known as Perth Park but re-named Kings Park in 1901 in honour of King Edward VII following a visit by his son, the Duke of York (later King George V). The Swan River is in the background – the leafless trees are bottle trees (baobabs) [adansonia digitata]. A native species of Madagascar (and Australia), they were transported down to Western Australia from the Northern Territory and there was much speculation at the time as to whether they would transplant. Judging by the photo above, they haven’t done so bad!

TA/B/C Kingpin thrust washer

5 Nov

Torrington needle thrust bearing with hardened steel washers on the left which replaced the standard thrust washer on the right.

Recently I took my TA in for its annual MoT test, using a local garage that is sympathetic to classic and vintage cars. I was fairly confident it would pass OK, having greased all the suspension, adjusted the brakes and checked all the usual things prior to taking it to the garage. The mechanic, who knows my car well, gave it his usual thorough check over. He had the front axle up on a beam jack and checked all the front suspension for wear and seemed quite happy. He then asked me how much vertical clearance should there be on the kingpins; 4 to 6 thou came my swift reply. You better have a look at this then he said, and using a long lever under the front tyre he raised the wheel. To my amazement there was what looked like a tenth of an inch movement between the stub axle and the front axle eye. I won’t fail it on that, but make sure it’s not the same next year when you bring it here was his response!

The MoT test took place only a week before we were due to go away in the TA to attend the “T Register Autumn Weekend” up in the Yorkshire Dales. I anticipated covering about 600 miles that weekend, so I thought I ought to correct the thrust clearance before departing on that journey.

The next morning I was out in the garage early, and had the front end of the TA up on axle stands and set about stripping down the offside front suspension. To remove the kingpin thrust washer requires the kingpin to be drifted out of the stub axle. The easiest way to do this is to remove the front wheel, remove the front hub complete, then remove the 4 bolts that hold the brake back plate to the stub axle and steering arm. Once you have removed the 4 bolts, tie the brake back plate out of the way with a large tie-wrap, making sure there is no strain on the rubber flexible brake pipe. Once you have done this it is possible with a set of feeler gauges to measure the clearance gap between the thrust washer and the front axle eye. In my case it was not as much as I thought, it was 39 thou, but was still way outside the 4 to 6 thou that is acceptable, so I made a note of the clearance. Now I could undo the cotter pin that locates the kingpin and carefully drift it out. I removed the small nut that holds the kingpin top hat and felt washer in place and removed them. I could now drift the kingpin downwards until I could remove the stub axle and old thrust washer from the front axle. It was now time to wash the stub axle, kingpin and thrust washer with Jizer ready for re-assembly. The old thrust washer thickness was measured using a pair of callipers and was found to be 120 thou thick, so the thrust gap was 159 thou (120 + 39). I had a new spare kingpin set, so I was able to measure the thickness of a brand new thrust washer, it was 124 thou. It was obvious that I needed a much thicker thrust washer, but where do you get those from without making your own?

My solution was to use a Torrington bearing as the thrust washer. This is a small flat roller bearing that is 78 thou thick. You need to put an hardened washer either side of the Torrington bearing, and these are available in 3 sizes, being 32, 63 and 95 thousands of an inch thick. I used the Torrington bearing with two of the 32 thou washers, this measured 142 thou thick. I was still 17 thou under size, so I used a 10 thou shim from an MGB wheel bearing shim kit. This gave me a clearance of 6 thou once everything was greased and assembled back together. I put the 10 thou shim at the bottom between the lower Torrington shim and the stub axle. One thing to make sure of is when you replace the 4 bolts that hold the brake back plate, stub axle and steering arm together, clean the threads and use Loctite on assembly. Repack the grease in the front wheel bearings and reassemble using a new split pin in the castellated hub lock nut. Pump the kingpins full of grease before using the car. I had hoped that the Torrington bearings would make the steering a bit lighter, they may have done but I am damned if I can notice it. The TA has the highest steering ratio of all the T types, and is heavy!

The photograph shows the Torrington bearing plus two hardened washers along with the old bronze thrust washer, plus a selection of MGB wheel bearing shims. I have listed the part numbers of the Torrington bearings and washers below, along with the prices I paid for them at my local bearing supplier in September 2011 to give you a guide to the cost.

Torrington needle thrust bearing for ¾ inch shaft, NTA1220, £2-80 each inc vat
Torrington thrust washer 32 thou thick, TRA1220, £1-94 each inc vat
Torrington thrust washer 63 thou thick, TRB1220, £2-76 each inc vat
Torrington thrust washer 95 thou thick, TRC1220, £2-82 each inc vat.

You can purchase a mixed pack of MGB front wheel bearing shims from Moss, part number ATB4242K (7 pieces) for £2-55. The shims come in 3, 5, 10 and 30 thou thickness.

Finally, if like me you also own an MGB in your stable, the MG Owners Club have for several years been supplying exchange MGB stub axles using Torrington thrust bearings in place of the old thrust washer/shims. They supply them ready pre-set and set-up, and you have the choice of needle roller thrust bearings or conventional shims.

Brian Rainbow

Back to school in order to calculate the combination of thrust washers and shims to use with the Torrington needle thrust bearing to take up the clearance gap.

Re-assembly complete with an acceptable clearance to satisfy the MoT tester…
even with his crowbar!

T-Type Overheating: Part 1

11 Aug

Inspired by an article I received from Alan Atkins, I thought I would run a series of articles on this subject. Alan’s article was very useful but it was a bit of a “catch all” on overheating and I wanted to be more focused in separate articles, as well as wanting to catalogue my progress on TC0750. Nevertheless, his article has given me lots of good information and has served to assist me with a framework within which to work.

Alan made the point that overheating is not a new complaint with older vehicles, many of which did not have a thermostat to control the engine temperature and whose cooling systems ran on the thermo-syphon principle. Now, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the thermo-syphon set up – it works perfectly on my PB – but the problem comes when one encounters a traffic jam and the temperature gauge climbs and climbs, giving one palpitations!

I can recall family days out in the late 1950s (yes, I can remember back that far, but can’t remember what I did yesterday!) to Weston-Super-Mare in the old Series 1 Morris 8 (EMU 419). Living on the south side of Bristol we came back on the A38 and had to climb the (then) notorious Redhill, south of Bristol Airport. Redhill wasn’t (and still isn’t) very steep, but it was a long upward pull, which ‘found out’ many an old car with a poorly maintained cooling system. In fact, it is no exaggeration to state that just over halfway up the hill and all the way to the top, the roadside was littered with old crocks with their bonnets up and clouds of steam pouring forth.

Looking back on this, I’m inclined to conclude that the cause of these boil-ups was, more often than not, the radiator. My conclusion was reinforced by experience a few years later when our 1952 Hillman Minx broke down with an overheating problem in Belgium. It seemed to take an eternity for the garage to remove the radiator and flush it through, but once done, the car ran fine and took us on through The Netherlands and into Germany.

Fast forward to 2011 and in between keeping a PB on the road and rebuilding a J2 I have been doing some work on TC0750. Having decided to get the engine rebuilt with a new steel crank and rods and a few other ‘bells and whistles’ I thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to remove the radiator and get it pressure tested and flow checked, which would be a start towards the engine rebuild (for which I am currently saving my pennies).

Now, as many of you who have worked on our cars know, jobs invariably turn out to be not as straightforward as one hoped. In my case, the removal of the radiator and shell and the subsequent separation of the shell to reveal the radiator and its surround in all its glory turned out to be a bit of a challenge – so much so that this article is more about the problems I faced rather than a contribution to the overheating debate.

The job started well and the bonnet (hood) tops and sides were removed quite easily. I removed the hinge from each bonnet side with the help of my IT man, who agreed to leave his computer for a short while. These were carefully stored (for heaven knows when they will go back!) and I was able to lift both bonnet tops off in one go with the centre hinge intact.

Next it was the turn of the radiator to bulkhead stay tubes to be removed and be suspended from the roof of shed number 3 using tie wraps (whatever did we do before they were invented?). At this point I ought to mention that the wings (fenders) had long been removed for repair, as had the headlights.

Having cut through all the hoses, which were well past their ‘sell by’ date and which will be replaced by a set of silicone hoses, it was just about time to have a go at taking the radiator and shell out as one unit. The two 3/8” BSF nuts securing the radiator to the support cross member were a little obstinate but gradually gave up the fight with the aid of some penetrating oil. As each nut was removed I was heartened to note that the flat washer which was positioned between it and the lower mounting rubber was exactly as per spec in the TC Factory Specification Book i.e. 3/8” x 1-1/4” x 0.72” Pl. washer (Rad. Securing Stud). No doubt some readers will think I am slightly mad but I like these little touches of originality!

Note: I’ve just remembered that there were two 3/8” BSF half nuts to undo, which were acting as lock nuts, before the BSF full nuts could be attacked.

So, the moment of truth had arrived, but nothing would budge. Experience over the years has taught me to be patient and not resort to ‘metallic torture’ as there is usually a reason why parts refuse to submit. In this case it was RUST; eventually, with some judicious wiggling and shaking it was possible to lift the radiator and surround out. The support cross member is very, very rusty and will need to be removed and be blasted and treated with POR 15 (by which I swear).

Next it was the turn of the radiator shell to be removed to get down to ‘brass tacks’ with the radiator itself. The radiator tape (total length 5’) needed to be threaded through the twenty four 1⁄2” drilled holes in the shell in order to gain access to the six (three each side) countersunk 3/16” BSF x 3/8” countersunk machine screws which hold the shell to the radiator casing (you could, I suppose call it the radiator sub-frame?). When these were released the radiator shell separated from the casing (sub-frame) quite easily.

Photo 1: The radiator tape being removed

A point to note about locating the 3/16” countersunk machine screws when reuniting the radiator shell with the casing is that the holes are elongated, which provides for some adjustment.

I was quite pleased with progress so far, but I had now reached the point where I would need some professional help. The radiator casing (sub-frame) was extremely rusty as can be seen by the following two pictures.

Photos 2 and 3: Two ‘shots’ of the rusty casing – worse was to come!

Clearly, I needed to remove the casing as I couldn’t leave it in the state it was. As will be noted from the pictures shown, it was only possible to undo one of the four 1⁄4” BSF x 1⁄2” set screws (two each side) at the bottom of the casing – the other three sheared.

I’ve gone a bit out of sequence here because the purpose of the aforementioned four set screws is to locate the bottom of the casing shown – having been removed – in the next picture.

Photo 4: Bottom of radiator casing showing ‘torture’ inflicted.

At this juncture I have to confess to the use of ‘metallic torture’ in that I hack sawed through what seemed to be a couple of layers of rusty metal between the inside of the bottom of the casing and the bottom of the radiator itself. In fact, steel strips on the bottom of the casing are soldered to steel strips on the bottom of the radiator to locate it in place.

Having removed the bottom of the casing, there was still a need to unsolder it at each side of the top of the radiator and underneath the header tank.

Photos 5 and 6: Two views of where the casing is soldered to the top of the header tank – it is also soldered underneath.

I had previously experienced good service from Raysons Radiators in Yeovil, but as they are situated 40 miles away and I wanted the casing to be unsoldered for me to arrange repair before taking it back with the radiator to be pressure tested and flow checked this was not an attractive option. I then recalled that fellow TC owner, David Lewis had received excellent service from a company called Advanced Autocooling (Bristol) Ltd ( As luck would have it they are actually situated on my doorstep (within two miles).

They couldn’t have been more obliging and un-sweated the casing from the radiator while I waited! The picture below shows the two side pieces of the casing after un-sweating from the radiator.

Photo 7: The two side pieces of the radiator casing after they had been un-sweated from the radiator.

Three of the captive nuts had also rusted out and needed to be repaired. Fortunately, a PA and PB owner (Fred Wheeler), who lives about 12 miles south of me not only brazed in new captive nuts, but also grit blasted the two side pieces of the casing. I immediately applied some POR 15 to the bare metal pieces.

Photo 8: A bit of a sorry sight with captive nuts no longer captive!

Fred also repaired the bottom of the radiator casing for me so that it was all ready for Advanced Autocooling to solder it on to the bottom of the radiator, along with the two side pieces that I had painted.

All was now ready to take the radiator and the restored casing to Adavanced Autocooling but before doing so I ‘dry assembled the casing to the radiator to check everything fitted.

Photo 9: The restored and painted side casing pieces (compare this with photos 7 and 8!)

Photo 10: The restored and painted bottom casing (compare this with photo 4!)

Photo 11: The tested radiator – still to be painted

Advanced Autocooling repaired four small leaks in the radiator and did a flow test (good flow reported) for £60. It’s good to have reliable professionals on one’s doorstep and capable M.G. friends like Fred Wheeler.


Overheating Part 2 in next issue.

The Luvax-Girling Damper

2 Aug


Original MG TC Maintenance Instruction BookletEd’s Introductory Note: Each new TC was issued with a little pocket sized booklet as per the scanned copy shown (it will be noted that mine has seen better days!). Inside my copy I found two inserts; one is a single sheet which gives hints on care and maintenance of Dunlop synthetic tyres, the other is a quarto size pamphlet of four pages (including front and back).

The front of the pamphlet has the MG Octagon and the Safety Fast! logo and a note in the bottom right hand corner, which states “The M.G. Midget “TC” Series cars are equipped with Hydraulic Dampers incorporating the “Pressure Recuperation” feature. This reprint from ‘The Light Car’ explains, in non-technical language, how they operate.”

The back of the pamphlet says “WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF THE M. G. CAR COMPANY LTD.,” plus address, telephone number and telegraphic address. “PRINTED BY TEMPLE PRESS LTD., LONDON E.C.1” is in the bottom left hand corner.

The two inside pages of the pamphlet explain how the hydraulic dampers work and the re-printed article from ‘The Light Car’ starts with a sketch of a section of a double-acting unit.

Section of a complete double-acting unit, showing the cam-operated pistons, and the baffle (D) which seals off the recuperating chamber above it, except for a “pre-determined leak” past the extension of the filler cap (E).

“You’ve read a good deal already about the Luvax piston-type pressure recuperating shock-absorber in the descriptions of new cars that have appeared in “The Light Car.” What is it? What does the term mean? How does it work?

Well, first of all, you must forget the term “shock-absorber”; it is considered to be a misnomer: the road springs are the shock-absorbers. Damper is a better term. Next, an amplification of the name: the result is the Luvax-Girling Damper and that is the name by which this particular commodity will be known in future. We must stress the fact that it is an entirely new and improved version of our old friend the Luvax shock-absorber.

The secret of the Damper is wrapped up in the term “pressure recuperating”. In essentially non-technical language, this means that when the piston returns to its “neutral” position after its initial damping movement, the cavity thus formed in the end of the cylinder is filled with oil-completely filled-for the simple reason that the oil has nowhere else to go. This is important. The piston must be “fully armed” for the next damping stroke, and it can’t be unless the cavity or chamber is fully replenished.

Now let us see how it works, assuming, for the sake of simplicity, that there is only one piston (the double-acting type shown in the sketch has two opposed pistons).

Deflection of the chassis frame partially rotates an arm, one end of which actuates a cam. In turn, that cam forces a piston outwards in a cylinder. The speed with which the piston can move outwards, however, is governed by the speed with which oil can be transferred from one side of the piston to the other. This is controlled by (A) a relief valve and (B) a “bleed,” the area of which is fixed by a restrictor pin. Both valve and “bleed” are part of the piston. The “bleed” is formed by a small flat on the top of the piston and a hole through which the restrictor passes.

A section of one of the pistons. (A) is the relief valve. (B) is the “bleed” and (C) the disc-type recuperator valve. The curved member on the extreme left is a steel spring which keeps the valve assembly in place.

On the return or inward stroke of the piston (as the chassis frame rises again) a disc-type recuperator valve permits the oil to be quickly transferred back again to the other side of the piston.

The transference is complete, because the body of the Damper, which is of course, filled with oil, is sealed by a lid or (to give it its technical term) a baffle.

The baffle has one important peculiarity in the shape of a “pre-determined annular leak,” which does, in fact, permit oil to pass to the recuperation chamber above it. The leak permits a slow flow, but is too small to accommodate a rapid flow such as that which movement of the piston tends to generate. Its object is to take care of volumetric increases due to expansion by temperature and to permit the oil to pass back again to the main oil chamber when the temperature falls.

To sum up, then, the piston moves backwards and forwards, the displaced oil on one side being squeezed via the appropriate ports and valve into the space on the other side. The manner of its regulation governs the ease, and therefore the speed, with which the piston can move, and the operating arm of the Damper can oscillate. That regulation of movement provides the damping action which enables you to drive over bumps and potholes as though they weren’t there.

These Dampers are not adjustable. The best setting is obtained during actual road tests of each make (and model) of car and this setting is adopted on the standard production model.

The new Luvax-Girling Damper is good for 25,000 miles without attention. It is not an afterthought, so to speak, but an integral part of the springing assembly: a scientific device which is the outcome of much thought, knowledge and experiment: and it has a stern task, for pressures up to 1,000 lb. per sq. in. may be generated.

It’s nice to think that you haven’t got to worry about it, but it’s worth knowing how it works”.

Ed’s note: I rather liked the reference to being able to drive over bumps and potholes as though they weren’t there! The roads must have been in better condition in the 1940s than they are now.

I spoke to Derek Stevenson of Stevson Motors in Birmingham about reconditioning of dampers. His company, founded in 1944, has been reconditioning vintage and classic lever arm and telescopic types for many years.

Derek told me that the dampers are neglected for maintenance purposes on many cars with the result that sludge forms in them and blocks the valves. A split casing renders the damper un-repairable and new casings are not currently available.

Derek’s website is at He also sells flexible steel braided fuel hoses, brake hoses and brake pipes and accessories.

Original MG T-Series by Anders Ditlev Clausager

7 Jul

First published in 1989 by Bay View Books Limited and re-printed five times. Out of print for some years before Herridge & Sons published this edition in June of this year.

The book needs little introduction, but for those who are not familiar with it, the following reviews give a good flavour of what to expect:

“Page after colourful page of various models in minute detail ….. a must for any owner” Motor Sport.

“Goes a long way to assist the purist in his quest for authenticity…..well written and profusely illustrated” Enjoying MG (MG Owners’ Club monthly magazine).

The cover price of the book is £22.50 but it is available to order from the T-Shop at the discounted price of £18.50. Postage rates are £3.15 UK, £6.60 EU and £12.03 Rest of World. The link to purchase is here: Original MG T Series by Clausager

We do not make any charge for packing, nor do we levy any surcharge for payment via PayPal.

Just good old-fashioned service at the lowest price we can possibly give!

Also back in stock is the MG TD/TF Workshop Manual at £19.50 (compare our price with those of the Car Clubs). Postage rates are £3.15 UK, £5.50 EU, £10 Rest of World.

MG TC Instruments: Why Green is Green

3 Jul

There has been great discussion from all quarters for a long time regarding the colour of M.G. dials. As my company has had a considerable hand in the matter, I think it may be helpful to give some of the historical details which have resulted in the colour you have all seen for many years.

As you may know, my business started from a hobby back in the late sixties. At that time Thomas Richfield Ltd traded in Broadstone Place, London, and being part of the Smith Group of companies, quite a lot of repair work was sent from the Smith works in Oxgate Lane, Cricklewood, down to Richfields. Smiths repaired and built new gauges; for example, pressure and temperature for TC, albeit with “half” pointers, whilst Richfield concentrated on Speedometers and Revolution Counters, clock cables and so on. At that time no one company dealt with a ‘set’ of dashboard instruments, switches, lamps etc. This is where we started, and later christened our company ‘The Complete Dashboard Service’.

Historically, Lucas usually obtained the electrical work contract for many British motor car builders; Riley, Singer, Lea Francis and M.G. to name but a few. With this contract, for some reason, they also provided the ammeter, lamps, warning lamps and panels. So, all who search for British Jaeger original ammeters, will not find them! How difficult it must have been for Lucas to spray and print dials to match Smiths; unfortunately I have not been able to discover who did what and where!

One therefore had the choice of Smiths or Richfields for gauge and speedometer work with a number of gaps in between, like the ammeter, which is where we came in.

Now, regarding paint; the original Smiths equipment schedules 1937 to 1939 describe the TA/TB colour as Avon GREEN. The TC is described as Avon GREEN, Polychromatic enamel, all of which was in fact the early days of metallic paints, which as you know are notorious for pigment fading; this still applies today, as you can often tell a modern car has been partly resprayed by the mismatch of depth of colour.

Around 1969/70 Smiths were pad printing replacement dials in green metallic paint, which were produced by an Ault and Wiborg colour matching machine operated by a company nearby to the Oxgate Lane factory, for speedometers and revolution counters and 2” gauge dials…..but….no ammeters! At that time we started stamping out our own ammeter dial blanks, and with the co-operation of Smiths, obtained the same paint code and purchased the same cellulose paint from their supplier. We were very lucky to purchase the last remaining BM ammeter bezels, after which the tooling was broken up. We had about 800 at the time and finished up restoring batches of 25 with new bezels for Gerry Goguen of Abingdon Spares. Oh, to still have some left!

We understand from a colleague who spent many years at both Smiths and Richfields, that the Avon Green paint code was still current in most major manufacturers’ details in the late sixties. Due to rationalisation, and deterioration of old printing plates, some of the gauge codes were a later variant, but in order to obtain a complete set to the same colour it was necessary for us to follow what Smiths had chosen as their interpretation of the original Avon Green – not blue, bluey silver or anything else – but Green!

Gradually Smiths took less and less interest in manufacturing and restoration work, until they finally closed and stripped the factory in early 1984, destroying and sending off for scrap metal huge quantities of material, instruments complete, components and tooling, selling the shelving and machinery in a very sad sale which we attended. The roof was finally removed to comply with requirements to no longer pay council taxes and was very quickly followed by demolition and redevelopment of the site.

The instrument division producing more modern instruments was sold to Lucas, who located at a plant in Wales. About the same time Thomas Richfield Ltd was sold to Speedograph in Nottingham, who still trade as Speedograph Richfield Ltd. Richfield continued to trade in London for a few more years before locating in Nottingham.

So, in the early seventies Green was Green, and we began filling in the gaps and providing the complete service. If you ordered from Smiths, Richfield, Nisonger in New York, Abingdon, Moss, or us, an extra gauge, the chances were it would be a match to the set. This we believe worked extremely well. We saw no reason to do further research and create another colour. As time passed we built more tooling for dial blanks and purchased printing equipment to enable us to create our own sets of dials as it became increasingly difficult to obtain anything from Smiths, as they reduced this side of their work. We received a considerable amount of help, technical advice, drawings, and on the closure of the factory, many equipment schedules, and instruments ‘Standards’ from them, and were also allowed to purchase a printing machine that had been taken to Wales and not used, allowing us to continue the same printing procedures. The instruments ‘Standards’ books enable us to determine which vehicle they were used on, together with build and calibration detail.

In the early days of MG instrument restoration the lead was taken by Smiths and what followed was a continuation of their decisions based on their own experience and factory records. We have to the best of our ability followed these principles. In later years the British Jaeger trademark was not maintained and after thirty plus years of trading and respecting the quality of the marks we have been allowed to resurrect the Trade Mark in our name at the Patent Office. So I feel we have achieved something, even if the subject of the colour rumbles on!

I hope this will go some way to explaining the reasons why the present colour is as it is.

John E.Marks

Ed’s Note: As you may have gathered, John wrote this when Vintage Restorations was ‘in full swing’.

MG TC Dash Instruments – Let’s Face the Facts

2 Jul

Through the years, many parts have migrated between models, to include the dash instruments. It was a bitter realization that TC7670 had MGA gauges as part of a classic 60’s restoration. So the hunt was on from the start to find an original set of gauges for my car. Today the same hunt continues for others. But what do you need to look for? And how do you identify a proper TC instrument? The answer lies in the face.

Below is a summary of the face markings for each instrument.

Speedo: BRITISH JAEGER / S. 461 / 1675 / MILES PER HOUR

S.461 is the original part number. 1675 represents the internal gearing or cable turns per mile (TPM). The later TD speedo is often found in the TC because it appears to be correct with the “flat face”. However, it has the markings of S561 and 1600.

The #1600 is very telling and should be a red flag for TC owners. This # highlights that the TPM is calibrated for TD. If used in a TC, your indicated speed will be wrong. Also, for those that have changed the rear axle gear ratio in your TC, the speed may be in error also. To solve this problem, a repair shop can recalibrate the internal gearing to your specific car.

Finally, some export models were calibrated for kilometers per hour (KPH) instead of MPH and the faces reflected this.


Primary TC identification is made with the K30. Often, this particular instrument gets confused with the very similar TD tach face with K45. The TC/TD clock faces are also the same. However, the TC clock has an extended stem below the dash for reset. The TD clock stem is on the back of the clock.

The TC rev counter (British Jaeger K30)

Amp: Early & Late Faces

b. AMPS / -20 to +20 (Late TC)

Early and late TC ammeter faces

The above early markings were also common to the pre-war TA/TB gauges except that they had AMPERES spelled out. During the post-war period this was shortened to “AMPS”. The transition to the late face occurred at an unknown time, (1946-47?), when the Joseph Lucas markings at the top of the gauge were dropped. The face then took on a “plain” appearance with only AMPS and +/- 20. This same gauge carried over into early TD production. Then there was a final variation changing the range to +/- 30 for the later TD. Today, many restored instruments proudly display the Lucas markings.

Oil Pressure: LBS. PER SQUARE INCH / BRITISH JAEGER / 45854 (X45854)

The oil gauge will generally spark a discussion as there are sightings of 3 different oil gauge faces. (Please reference the oil gauge photo to follow the following points.) TA/TB oil gauges had the # 45854. This numbered face continued well into TC production with a confirmed sighting in early 1948. At some later time an “X” was placed on the number as a prefix yielding “X45854”. Other markings remained the same. Finally, a 3rd oil face followed which added “Made in England” at the top and a new number “OG/54” under the needle. The X45854 remained but was relocated on the bottom of the dial. The telling fact for this face is that OG/54 was the newer British Jaeger “replacement code” for the oil gauge. This 3rd face would be considered an aftermarket item.

Today, if you are looking for instruments, be happy with what you find as they are becoming more difficult to locate. However, if you are trying to restore the instruments as appropriate for your TC then face the facts and consider the above information.

As always, I welcome comment. Doug Pelton, doug ‘at’

Acknowledgements: A special thanks to John Marks, Vintage Restorations and Fred Kuntz & Craig Seabrook, Whitworth shop for sharing their knowledge about our gauges.

Editor’s Note: Thank you Doug – as always meticulously researched and with wonderful photographs.

Mention of John Marks in the acknowledgments reminds me that it would be useful and complementary to Doug’s article to follow on with a piece written by John about the colour of TC instruments which appeared sometime back in The Sacred Octagon. I have John’s permission to do so. Apologies in advance to those who have read the article before!

“Dave’s Doughnuts” (Donuts) (No you can’t eat ‘em!)

7 Mar

If your TA/B/C rear hubs ‘clunk click every trip’ then you could try “Dave’s Doughnuts”. The rubber foam doughnut fills the space between the brake drum and the wheel hub. As the spinner is tightened the foam is squashed between, locating on the half nuts and the spoke nipples, stopping the wheel from turning on the spline. Mine are still working after six months and will probably last for years.

You can cut your own with a sharp knife out of the foam rubber supplied. Two squares for you to cut out are £6 including postage and packing (order from John James via the Contact Form).


• Mark out the rubber with concentric circles.

Outside diameter: 145mm
Inside diameter: 75mm

• Using a sharp narrow blade hobby knife, cut the rubber into a ring. This is fairly difficult, but accuracy is not too important.

• With the rear wheel off the car slide the doughnut onto the hub and up to the brake drum. Replace the wheel. The spinner will probably not pick up without a good push. If you can’t get the spinner to start try trimming the rubber a little.

• Tighten the spinner in the usual way. The rubber will probably not show if the outside diameter is fairly neat.

• The rubber is intended for use with standard brake drum half nuts.

It is advisable to periodically check your spinners for tightness.

David Heath

None of us is perfect

4 Jan

I write to emancipate the downtrodden and inadequate car owner who loves his/her car but cannot come up to the slick standard of those smug TV personalities who seem to effortlessly glide through vehicle reconstruction. We make mistakes, sometimes moronic, but we get it right in the end and can be satisfied that the gleaming chariot which turns heads as we drive around was recreated from the sweat of our own brow and dogged dedication. So, to make you feel better I shall bare my soul with a few of the “challenges” I have encountered so far in the restoration of TC 7045.

I spent a long time fighting to remove the brake and clutch pedal shaft. I took off the spring washer and split pin holding it in place but no movement. I whacked it with a hammer and drift through the access hole in the chassis but to no avail.

I was rather embarrassed to be told that it comes out much easier once you realize that there is a spring, washer and split pin at both ends. I just couldn’t see because it was plastered with grease. This is how it should look:

(I’ve since learned that the bracket for the brake switch should be angled down to straighten the angle for the spring) Apparently. It is recommended also that the pedals should be put through the rubber fume excluder prior to assembly, so the whole lot will have to come to pieces again anyway. Maybe I will take the opportunity of another mod which is to drill the centre of the shaft, fit a grease nipple at the outer end and smaller holes to feed the grease into the bearings.

Keep taking photos as you dismantle – but the other side of that is that you must refer back to them. Otherwise you can end up with a howler like this:

Well, in some circles they are called spring hangers. No wonder I was having problems refitting the back axle to the springs but there you go – if only I’d looked back at the old photo!:

The back axle is now in place with correct shackle alignment. Remember this: taking apart and rearranging parts which have been cleaned and refurbished takes only a fraction of the time needed when you are wrestling with inches of grime, road dirt, rust and previous damage, so correcting glitches like this becomes no great issue – you just feel a bit of a plonker!

Another smarty pants idea I had at the other end of the chassis: There had been cracks on the top of the chasis curve above the front springs, so as a loyal disciple of Mike Sherrell I decided to ask my chassis restorer to weld in boxing plates to strengthen the front end. I gave him the pictures out of the book. Back came the chassis looking absolutely straight and with sundry welding done – I was delighted – until I came to fit the shock absorbers and consider how I would insert the bolts for the front apron. There was an access hole in the boxing but it was smaller than expected.

I lost two nuts down the front of the boxing until I came up with the ploy of stuffing it with newspaper but my cat had its vocabulary enlarged a great deal while it sat watching me grovel on the floor with (too big) fingers at all angles trying to bolt on the dampers. I’m still pondering the question of the apron fixing bolts but reckon that the way forward is to drill an extra hole in the plate which, together with the existing access hole will allow me to place and grip the bolts.

Finally, a cautionary tale for those of us working alone in our garages:

Picture the scene. On Sunday morning your hero skips down to the garage eagerly anticipating a thrilling day with TC 7045 – well……… bits of her, that is. Unfortunately, my garage, like many others is a magnet for junk and I resolved to remedy not only the junk problem but also accessibility to the chassis by creating a frame upon which the part rebuilt body can sit while I prioritise mechanical restoration. (the reason for halting body work will be recounted another day) A light bulb lit above my head – that old Dexion! The design of the frame would be: a frame supported by four uprights lifting the car body to 4 feet off the ground, cross braced for stability. Out came my trusty angle grinder (one of my preferred five power tools, by the way) and all is cut to length. I stood and scratched my head – how to get the body onto the frame by myself? My half baked answer was:

1. Build the front section of the frame, bolt on the long pieces, and brace them to make a wedge.
2. Pull the body onto the wedge, and secure into position.
3. Build the back section of frame.
4. Lift up the back of the wedge (the body was still just a skeleton, so still quite light), and bolt on the back section of the frame, then finish the bracing.

It would have worked well had it not been for one thing – well two, actually. First, I had omitted to put a nut onto one of the bolts on the bracing and second, I had secured the body only by a single point at the front. Have you worked it out?

As I lifted the back, the bolt fell out and the brace fell loose, causing the frame to sag to one side. The body then pivoted round its single fixing point slewing across the frame. As this happened, and I adjusted my grip on the back of the frame to stabilise it, I let go of the ready constructed rear of the frame which fell away from me out of reach. Further, as I uttered the usual imprecations one may expect in situations such as this, all of the bolts I was holding ready in my mouth to do the final fixings spluttered out, tinkling all over the floor, again out of reach.

My, my, how amusing, I thought.

Red faced, I lowered all to the floor, started again and this time it worked well with the body fixed in two places and all braces properly bolted. Fortunately the little piece of motoring history entrusted to my tender and incompetent mercies did not suffer any harm. The greatest wound I suffered was to my pride.

There now – my manifest and multifarious deficiencies as an aspiring mechanic have been laid open for all to mock. Or maybe there are stories out there of garage grief which you are all modestly holding back?

The serious message is that if you are working alone take care and think things through – there may not be anybody to immediately rush to your aid should things not go as expected.

Chris Oswald